Occupy Sesame Street: Can We Define “Fair”?

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“Monica, give your brother his toy back!”, “Christian, share the popcorn with Monica!”, “I want you both to take turns with the bike!”. Their response? “That’s not fair!” Not a day goes by that I don’t hear “That’s not fair” expelled in a whiny voice. I’ve learned over time that it’s impossible to make both children happy at the same time. No matter how I decide, I’m somehow unfair to the other child. If one kid has 2 toys and is told to share with their sibling, no longer having 2 toys is unfair. If they’re required to share, both believe this to be an uneven decision.

I blame Sesame Street. Sesame Street has tried to define “fair” and “nice” but these definitions don’t translate into the “real world”. Muppets are unrealistically understanding. Perhaps the lack of parental figures plays into this, or maybe it’s the shared values found only in this fictional neighborhood.

Because defining “fair” is a challenge, executing fairness is impossible. Fairness is in the mind of the toy-holder. And the debate over what’s fair doesn’t end with adolescence. Turn on the news and you’re inundated with countless “occupiers” who believe our government systems and financial institutions are unfair. At the same time you have people who work 80 hours a week that think it’s unfair to be taxed relentlessly and that they should be allowed to keep their maximum pay. No matter how you side, someone is going to whine “that’s not fair”.

In a meeting last Monday my supervisor was reviewing the outcome of several executive meetings. When he was finished I head the call of the child, “that’s not fair”. I was shocked when I realized that voice was mine. I apologized later and tried to justify my reaction as instinct. I should’ve watched more Sesame Street as a kid.

So, should we accept that fairness is unattainable, or should we redefine what’s fair? WWED: What would Elmo do?


Marilyn Cox

Marilyn Cox is the Director of Marketing for Second City Works - the B2B division of the famed Second City.

You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.

Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.

She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.

Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.
One Response to "Occupy Sesame Street: Can We Define “Fair”?"
  1. richelletaylor@yahoo.com' Bizemom says:

    I am often surprised at what adults find “fair” in the workplace. In general, I find people have a sense of entitlement to things that I would expect to earn only after hard work. I did watch a lot of Sesame Street though so maybe I am biased.

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